The Potential Father Figures in Stevenson's Treasure Island
In the novel Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, Jim Hawkins is the main protagonist. Jim is a brave fourteen year old teenager. He matures a lot throughout his adventure while being under the influence of the men on the ship. Jim lost his father at a young age, which makes him lack an important father figure role in his life. However, throughout his journey, Jim encounters several potential father figures that could lead him down the right path in life, or the wrong path if he is not careful. Long John Silver is the worst potential father figure for Jim. Although, he does have a bank account and seems to be affectionate towards Jim for the majority of the novel, he is still a horrible father figure. Silver is a murderous, duplicitous, liar who in the end only cares about himself. “Silver, agile as a monkey, even without leg or crutch was n top of him next moment, and had twice buried his knife on the hilt on that defenseless body.” (62) Silver is a hot-tempered, impulsive, manipulative, man who is often described as a monster. This sets a horrible example for Jim to follow. Jim needs a father figure who can provide him with a good example to follow. This all shows how unfit Silver is to be a father figure towards Jim.
One of the better potential father figures for Jim is Squire Trelawney. Trelawney is presented as someone who does care about Jim, but not so much to be willing to be held accountable for all of Jim’s actions. Unlike Silver, Trelawney is not a bloodthirsty murderer, but he isn’t the best either. Compared to the rest of the crew, Trelawney is known for having a deadshot. “‘Captain,’ said I, ‘Trelawney is the deadshot. Give him your gun, his own is useless.’” In this passage, Jim is showing that he looks up to Trelawney in a way, by calling him a deadshot. Trelawney is an okay father figure for Jim, but not the best.
Jim’s best potential father figure is Dr. Livesey. He isn’t always drunk like the pirates are. He is caring for others which sets a good example for Jim to follow. When Jim joins the pirates, Livesey offers to take all of the blame on his shoulders for if Jim will come back and join them once again. “‘I know, I know’ he cried, ‘We can’t help that, Jim, now. I’ll take it on my shoulders, holus bolus, blame and shame, but I stay I cannot let you. Jump! One jump and you’re out and we’ll run for it like antelopes.’” Livesey is showing how much he cares about Jim in this passage. Jim needs a father figure who cares about him, sets a good example, and can help him mature as a man. Livsey offers all of these things, which makes him the perfect father figure for Jim.
Jim has many potential father figures throughout his journey, some are good and some are bad. The most significant father figure for Jim is Dr. Livesey. Livesey often sets a good example for Jim to follow throughout the novel. Livesey encourages Jim to make the right choices, while Silver encourages him to do the opposite. An important thing for a father figure to do is lead Jim in the right direction. Throughout the novel Jim occasionally didn’t choose the best example to follow. However, all of the men surrounding Jim influenced him to become the braver, stronger, and more independent young man he is at the end of the novel. Although Silver may offer a more exciting lifestyle for Jim, Dr. Livesey provides a more practical life for Jim. The reader will find that even though Jim didn’t always follow the best father figure example to follow, he matures into a young adult by the end of the novel.
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